Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

STEFAN   GEORGE  AND  HIS   CIRCLE                155

As regards this we have zur Linde's statement in his Arm Hofy
undder Charon,, which he wrote to counter Holz's system: 'Icb kenne
Walt Whitman?? (sic] 'nicbt, habe wohl nie einen englischen Vers von ihm
geksen, und an Uberset^ungen nur etwa hundert ^itierte Verse*. What he
admits he had seen might of course have been sufficient; and
Freiligrath's translation, as well as the more recent one of Karl
Knortz and T. W. Rolleston, was available, as well as Johannes
Schlaf's first essays on Whitman (1898). It is probably accidental
that zur Linde's 'phonetic rhythm5 is (in practice) identical with
that of Stefan George: reiteration in a line of the same consonant
or vowel, inner rhymes, assonance, alliteration. But distinct from
George's technique is zur Linde's use of impure rhymes, and
frequent rhyming of short and long vowels: flog—nochy Kluft—
ruft, Tod—Gott. The chief factor in the revolutionary structure (if
it is revolutionary) is accentuation. The free distribution of stresses
is sometimes drastic, and zur Linde is particularly fond of con-
triving lines with, say, three unstressed to seven stressed syllables.
But the apparent clash of stresses in such a line as 'Darn mrd die
Welt grdu bis %um Abendrof is as old as the hills (Luther's Der
altbose Feind^); phonetically there is no clash, for there is (there
must be) a pause between the two consonants. There is greater
daring in such a line as *A.uf endloser, misser heisser Heide ging ich
hm*\ this is not cacophonous; the rhythm drags from stress to
stress to give the dragging of weary feet over white sand. System-
atic is zur Linde's lengthening or shortening of lines; often there
is a long loose preparatory roll with, at stanza ends, a short or
shorter line perhaps with heaped stresses like the last hammer-
blows - a driving home by intense concentration. Quite recently
the loosely billowing line, not of Whitman but of Klopstock
(phonetically spurious hexameters!) has been put forward as a
vital influence in contemporary verse structure. One of the poets
of today, Hans Egon Holthusen, agrees: 'we have Klopstock in
our bones', he writes to me; but he adds that his own linear
rhythm may go back to 'der freigefullte Vers der althochdeufschen
HeldenKeder (HildebrandsKed!); and in any case he and the other Ger-
man poets of today, however much they may crack up EKotismus,
are (as Holthusen says) *im Strahlungsbemcb derspatm Lyrik EJJfees*.
Research might show that there is the hardening of the Duineser
Elegien, to ring in harmony with the hardened mentality of today,
in the new Anglo-American verse. Simply stated zur Linde's sys-